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Quick question about off grid electricity

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by dewnhew, Aug 14, 2015.

  1. dewnhew

    dewnhew Monkey

    So I just read a book on going off the grid and it had what was easily one of the larger chapters that was just about thinking what you use electricity on.

    Now to be honest while I always thought I was careful with how I used electricity I never realized exactly how much of it went to things that could actually be done other ways.

    As an example a solar water heater. Simply by shifting to taking a shower around dusk you can have plenty of hot water and only need a "regular" water heater for days with no sun and then you only turn the thing on when you need it. Even cooking (I have an electric range). The reason he talks about reducing your energy needs in the first place is because that then cuts the cost to get off the grid ... which I've found can get prohibitively expensive.

    However lets face it, if SHTF we're going to want off grid power (I'm working on getting my own power generation going).

    So here's my question. What kinds of things have you changed about your life from "regular modern society" to reduce your energy needs? I'm interested in hearing because the more ideas I can get the better (less money I have to spend).
  2. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    I like to check and see exactly what each item is actually using in terms of Watts and amp hours with a Kill A Watt meter like this P3 P4400 Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor
    This told me what is possible to run and what isn't (or how much I'd have to spend in solar to be able to run it)
    techsar, kellory, Tully Mars and 2 others like this.
  3. Here's an easy way to go about it. In the warm season(s) when it doesn't get below freezing at night, tell everyone you're having a power-failure drill, give them each a flashlight, and turn off the main breaker to your home. Then, turn off all the other breakers, except for the refrigerator and freezer, and put the main breaker back on.

    Then make a list of everything you can't do with the power off that is probably something you can't do without - like the refrigerator (and the freezer if you have one). It's much easier to notice something that you really need when it isn't working then when it is.

    William Warren
  4. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    kellory likes this.
  5. T. Riley

    T. Riley Monkey+++ Site Supporter++

    Replaced my electric stove with a Premier battery ignited stove. A traditional gas stove will use 100+ watts to heat the glow igniter for the oven when in use. On demand gas water heater. Heatalator fireplace which heats the whole house. Replaced almost all bulbs with LEDs throughout the house. Added a solar system which supplies between 3600 and 4500 watts per day. Unplugged electronics when not in use (TV, BR disc, cable boxes, computers, toasters, coffee pots, anything with a remote).
    Cruisin Sloth and Yard Dart like this.
  6. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    I had 56 recessed 'can' lights when I moved into this house @60-100W each. We replaced them all with CREE LEDs (2700 spectrum is the most incandescent like) for 7-9W each.

    This took the kitchen alone from 1000W to 80W and no one can tell the difference. And they're dimable too :)

    I think it cost close to $3200 to LED the whole house but now I don't worry if the lights are left on upstairs and lighting is trivial to run from my solar system.

    Edit: this is not a BOL.
  7. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    sure it's not ;) we believe you
  8. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    This is my house. With sod and a pool in the backyard... not the BOL

    I live two lives. One is the professional corporate guy and the other is more in tune with our 3% forum.
  9. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey Site Supporter

    Walk around your home with an eye for how else can you do it without electricity.. I dumped the electric coffee pot for a percolator on my propane stove with pilot light ignition. I have a propane refrigerator and I add ice in icecream buckets with the lids when it it hot out.. Chrismas LED tree lights wound around the over head for general lighting.. Plan project times for when I run a gen set and do laundry at that time as well.. And I use laptop computers.. As a matter of fact, I am typing this with all the power shut down for the night listening to a mouse chew on something .. Got get that trap set!
    T. Riley, Yard Dart and Ganado like this.
  10. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    @Dont.... here is the peanut butter go bait that trap
  11. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey Site Supporter

    LOL!! Got it done...
    Ganado likes this.
  12. I am seriously interested in getting one! Please tell me what model yours is, how much it cost, and how much propane it takes to run it in a month. Thanks!

    William Warren
  13. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey Site Supporter

    This frig came with the cabin when I purchased it, however I would guess that it would cost in the area about a thousand. They are the same refrigerators that you would find in a camp trailer and are very solid in their function. Unless someone had poked a hole in the tubing, they won't loose any gas. The only have a pilot light kind of heat source that causes it to function, and such, use very little propane.

    You may be able to find someone junking out a trailer and pick up the frig.. Would have to build a cabinet for it. The other thing is, they also can work off electricity for the heating element. I do not use the electricity function..

    Maintenance consist's of cleaning the dust and dirt out of the small condensor or having to replace the door gasket.
    The down side is they do not work as efficiently if the ambient air temperature is high. I get around that by placing small pan's of ice in it. I get the expected condisation inside, however my bacon stays cold.;)
  14. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    I removed one from my hunting cabin trailer. It did not work in propane or electric. Never figured out why. I don't remember if it is still there or if it has been hauled out yet. I'll need to check that when I next go down there. (Possibly next week.)
  15. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    The technology for "most" of these Refer Systems is "Ammonia over Hydrogen Gas" and requires NO Pump for the refrigerant. It is an Old Technology, and very mature, in fact. All that is required is a Heat Source. it can be Propane Burner, 120 Vac Heating Coil, 12 Vdc Heating Coil, or any other Heat source. decades ago, they were Kerosene Fueled, and I saw one a few years back where the owner, heated the thing, using a Rocket Stove Type Burner, and Wood Chips. The heat source is irrelevant to the operation of the Refer....
    T. Riley and Tobit like this.
  16. duane

    duane Monkey++

    We had a refrig on the farm that ran on kerosine and you turned it up or down like a lantern to select the temp inside. Seems like it was a Serval or some such thing. It had no freezer section and If you wanted ice, you went to the ice house and if you wanted it really cold, you used ice and ice cream salt. When we went to town, we were always amazed at the freezer section in the stores and peoples houses and how they had ice cream and pop sicles and all that good stuff.. Never had that at home until the middle of winter. Mom canned the garden stuff, meat and eggs, root cellar for that stuff and dried a lot of things. Dad made hams, bacon, salt pork and sausages and we had beef when it was really cold. We did not eat a lot of meat in the summer but we did eat a lot of chicken and fresh caught fish. Could buy meat at the market and had a locker in the cold storage plant that was at about -30 below and where we stored our meat. Would go to town and get enough out for 3 or 4 days at a time.
    T. Riley and Ganado like this.
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